What happened to Hendrik Wüst? From the once biting general secretary of the NRW-CDU, who railed against criminal migrants and dreamed of dismantling the welfare state? Even at the political Ash Wednesday in a Sauerland shooting range, Wüst recently showed nothing of what he once stood for. And that's now typical of him.
Instead, he gave and gives the all-integrating, multi-religious and multi-ethnic prime minister. In flawless country father poetry, he asserted: "I'm not interested in where a child comes from. I don't care about skin color. I'm not interested in the religion of my parents. One thing is clear: they are all our children!” For these sentences he was severely scolded in some social media bubbles. But even the libertine of 2010 would probably have refused the applause of 2023. And there were good reasons for that, as well as bad ones.
First of all, the current Prime Minister has of course recognized something true in the years since his wild days: The future has a history of immigration. This is especially true for NRW. Around 50 percent of the under-15s in the most populous federal state immigrated themselves or are the children of at least one immigrant parent. And that's not counting the children from all over the world who have arrived and are still arriving since 2022.
Wüst also recognized, as he recently said, that the majority of immigrant children will stay for the long term. Early deportation does not work in many cases (at least not yet). And late deportation often makes little sense when the children are going through daycare and school and the parents have – not always, but often – gained a foothold. Quite apart from how much hardship it involves. Consequently, the father of the country is well advised to demonstratively open his arms wide to the many millions of citizens with foreign ancestry.
Nevertheless, the libertine of 2010 would have partially rightly refused the applause of 2023. And not for what he said in the Schützenhalle, but for what he didn't say there. Of course, it is his job to support people of all backgrounds and religions growing up here. Only: Neither day-care centers nor schools can afford that. There are too few staff and too many immigrant children, as Wüst knows. Municipal, parent and teacher associations have been complaining about it for a long time.
Even the SPD interior minister, Nancy Faeser, announced that not only should the capacity for admission be increased, but also that immigration should be regulated more closely in order to maintain the ability to integrate. Ironically, the former conservative Wüst does not mention this connection between migration and the ability to integrate. In doing so, he suggests to the audience that immigration policy exhausts itself in widely spread arms. His audience knows better than that.
Now the libertine of today could counter that of the past by warning that the municipalities would be overburdened by the increasing number of refugees. He recently did so in a letter to Interior Minister Faeser. Is correct. However, his conclusion from this description remains one-dimensional: he demands more money from the federal government in order to be able to accommodate the immigrants. He only addresses the issue of receptivity, i.e. one side of the problem. But the other is the influx itself.
This unfiltered immigration needs more effective limitation. And, to say the least, a far greater drive towards quick deportations (as difficult as that is). But none of this was worth a word to Wüst. He is currently merging in his role as the supreme (and green-affine) announcer of solidarity, bestower of medals and arms-outstretcher of NRW. There is nothing bad about these roles. They only degenerate into an unbelievable spectacle when the influential CDU politician refuses to add another role to them: that of immigration limiter.
But let's wait and see: Perhaps one day the synthesis of the snappy opposition politician of yesteryear and the all-embracing father of the country today will follow - perhaps, just in time for the federal elections, the libertine 2025?